sermon: Paul’s Son, Timothy Acts 16:1-5

Paul’s Son, Timothy

Acts 16:1-5

Introduction

TT- God can overcome any obstacle that hinders your faith and service to Christ.

Human need met by text

Everyone here today has at least one obstacle in his or her life when it comes to following Christ and serving Him.  Usually these are a result of either our own sin or someone else’s sin or they are a result of simply living in a fallen sinful world.  We’ll see today that Timothy had a couple of things working against him.  We’ll also see that in God’s grace He sent Paul to Timothy and Paul spent much time and effort helping Timothy.

What is it that sometimes tends to hold you back from moving forward in Christian maturity and effective evangelism?  Are there things in your past that have shaped and molded you in a less than desirable way?  God is working right now to show you that these cannot be excuses and His grace can overcome any obstacle.

As Paul believed he was to go back to strengthen the new believers so, he and Silas embark on their journey.  They will be traveling back through the sites mentioned in Acts 14, notably Derbe and Lystra.

We remember what happened at Lystra…Paul heals a crippled man and the city hails the missionaries as Hermes and Zeus.  When the people found out they were not and when Paul told them to forsake these wicked gods, he was taken outside the city and stoned and left for dead.  Remember, Paul gets back up, goes into the same city and preaches the Gospel to them.

Acts 14:21-23 (ESV)
21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,
22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

It is these last verses that tell us why Paul wanted to go back…21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples,

One of those disciples is in our text today…

Now, when Paul arrives, he and Silas find a young man who makes a big impression on Paul and who would eventually become one Paul leaned on very heavily.

What’s remarkable here is that Timothy who was converted on Paul’s first trip through the area, and with little instruction begins to grow and mature in the faith.  When Paul returns to the area and begins to inquire as to how things are going begins hearing of a young man who has grown in the faith by leaps and bounds.  Paul and Barnabas had left the region of Lystra and Derbe but the Holy Spirit had not left.  He stayed and with the partnership of godly leaders, young Timothy had begun to grow in the faith.

I have heard it stated that the youth are the church of the future.  That is not true.  Our youth are the church today just as much as the older folks are the church today.

Most place Timothy between the ages of 16-18 years.

Before we begin, I want to read a text that shows us who Timothy had become at the end of Paul’s life…

2 Timothy 1:1-14 (ESV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my beloved child:
3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.
4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.
5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,
7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,
9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher,
12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.
13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Today I want to encourage and challenge everyone to run hard after Christ.  Be bold in the faith.  Do not let anything stand in your way.  Pursue Christ and Christian maturity passionately and with great consistency regardless of your age.  Here we have an example of a young man who even though he had some serious disadvantages still once he met Christ became a passionate follower.

Please hear what God says today through His Word to us…

Acts 16:1-5 (ESV)
1 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.
2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.
3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem.
5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

1. A Disciple Named Timothy

1 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.
2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium.
Paul had replaced Barnabas with Silas.  Now in God’s providence He had led Paul to a young man who needed him terribly.  They needed each other really.  Paul had a great desire to disciple young men so that when he was gone they could take the baton of the Gospel and pass it along to other generations.  Throughout Paul’s life we have Timothy first being taken under Paul’s arm and instructed in the faith.  We would also see Titus come along and then we would even see Paul disciple a runaway slave name Philemon.  There were no doubt others not mentioned.

Luke mentions Timothy and in the same breath tells us he is a disciple.

Probably, Paul had led Timothy to Christ on his first trip through the region.  Luke also tells us that Timothy had developed a good reputation among the believers in Lystra and Derbe.  But in between the being a disciple and being well thought of are a couple of problems or disadvantagesTimothy faced.

A.  Timothy was a product of a mixed marriage

the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.

On the surface, this may not seem to be a big deal.  But young Timothy would be literally plagued with the fallout of this mixed marriage for the rest of his life.  Luke tells us that his mother was Jewish and a believer.  Now think through this with me.  Here is Timothy, a young Jewish boy who his father had forbid to be circumcised as an infant.  He grows into a child and accompanies his mother to the synagogue every Sabbath Day to worship.  He was not a full-fledged Jewish worshipper because he had be denied the rite of circumcision.  Yet he wasn’t a pagan Greek like his father either.  He was sort of out in nowhere land.  Now his mother hears the Gospel and believes and so does young Timothy but his father remains lost.

B.  Timothy received spiritual instruction from his mother

5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
On the one hand, Timothy was blessed to receive spiritual instruction.  However, to not have a saved father and to only receive feminine spiritual instruction would plague him the rest of his life.  It is very difficult for male children when they only have female examples of spirituality.  That is why a child needs a mom and a dad who love Christ and model female spirituality and male spirituality.

What Paul does here is quite remarkable.  He becomes Timothy’s father.  The Spiritual father Timothy never had.  Paul spends the rest of his life modeling manly godliness for Timothy and encouraging him to practice what Paul had taught him.

6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,
7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

It is good for mothers to instruct their young children, girls and boys.  At the same time, boys need Christian fathers who model manly Christianity and teach them how to think and how to live as men.

The reality is that even though Timothy’s mother and grandmother taught him the Scriptures from childhood he still had a great disadvantage that he continually had to fight against.  He tended to be timid and unsure of himself.  Paul stepped in and became Timothy’s spiritual father.

Children need godly parents, mothers acting like mothers and fathers acting like fathers.

2.  Becoming All Things to All People

3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
Because Timothy was from a mixed marriage, and wasn’t circumcised as an infant, if he was going to be effective among the Jews he needed to be circumcised.  It’s interesting to note that this event takes place and is reported by Luke right after the Jerusalem Council that determined that Gentiles do not need to be circumcised in order to be saved.  We noted earlier in the text that Timothy is called a believer well before Paul had him circumcised.  So, moving forward with circumcision had nothing to do with Timothy or his salvation.  What Paul wanted to do is to take away any hindrance to the Gospel.  Because he would be in various synagogues he could proclaim Christ as a fully devoted Jewish worshipper.  By the way, this was something he had never been able to do before.   So, in order to save Jews, Timothy was willing to become a Jew for the sake of the Gospel and no other reason.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (ESV)
19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.
21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.
22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

This is an important Gospel principle.  We too must become all things to all people.  We adjust our traditions, our dress, our eating habits, etc so as not to offend.  We never want to do something that will distract from the Gospel.  Timothy was circumcised so that the Jews who were being evangelized would not be sidetracked and want to discuss Timothy rather than Christ.

Becoming all things to all people never ever means we adjust the Gospel.  We never change the message in the least but as the messengers, we must be accommodating to others.

This passage is important and helps us understand that the missionary teams were still interested in evangelizing the Jews.  They still practiced Jewish traditions in order to not be a stumbling block to the Jews.  These practices, however, were social and not part of salvation in any way.  The door is left open and Jewish folks are invited into God’s Kingdom through Christ.  Paul and Timothy would issue the invitation…come to Christ and be saved.

3.  The Churches Were Strengthened

4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem.
5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

Paul and Silas set out to strengthen the churches and they were strengthened.  Do we see what happens when distractions are removed?  This is Luke’s point.  If Timothy is to begin preaching in Jewish synagogues he must preach as a fully converted Jewish believer.  One who cared so deeply that he would go to great lengths to be all things to all people?  As a result, the churches were strengthened and Jews and Gentiles were saved.

Additional Application

If you’re here today as a young person, hopefully you can relate to Timothy.  He felt timid and fearful at times.  Have you ever experienced these things?  He overcame because he had help.  He had someone to remind him, love him and challenge him.

Perhaps you’re here today as an older adult.  Is there someone you could invest some time in like Paul did Timothy?  What ministry do you have to the next generation?  Is there someone you know who is from a single parent home who could use the company and instruction of a godly man?

Maybe you’re here as a father.  Are you guiding your children in spiritual matters?  Are you showing them what it looks like to be a manly Christian?

Maybe you’re a mom?  Are you modeling femininity and submission to your children?

2 To Timothy, my beloved child:
3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.
4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.
Paul was the father Timothy never had.  Paul prayed for Timothy night and day and longed to be reunited with him again.

TT- God can overcome any obstacle that hinders your faith and service to Christ.

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